We, as free Americans, have a right to our privacy, but a new wrinkle in that inalienable truth has emerged.
It comes as no secret that the federal government is spying on us. It’s abhorrent that this is such a nonchalant statement, but our modern world is moving forward at a breakneck pace and our legal machinations move far slower than the salient sycophants who scour our personal cyberspace without permission.
That’s not to say that this overreaching surveillance doesn’t provide results, however, particularly when it comes to the heinous and inhuman world of child pornography. This scourge of the earth has been battled in the cyberworld from the very advent of the internet itself, but a peculiar issue has now emerged.
Namely, that the federal agencies responsible for catching these dregs of society are failing to prosecute them due to concerns about their Orwellian surveillance techniques being revealed.
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The Department of Justice has been dismissing child pornography cases in order to not reveal information about the software programs used as the basis for the charges.
An array of cases suggest serious problems with the tech tools used by federal authorities. But the private entities who developed these tools won’t submit them for independent inspection or hand over hardly any information about how they work, their error rates, or other critical information. As a result, potentially innocent people are being smeared as pedophiles and prosecuted as child porn collectors, while potentially guilty people are going free so these companies can protect “trade secrets.”
These litigious waters become ever murkier, however.
With the child pornography cases, “the defendants are hardly the most sympathetic,” notes Tim Cushing at Techdirt. Yet that’s all the more reason why the government’s antics here are disturbing. Either the feds initially brought bad cases against people whom they just didn’t think would fight back, or they’re willing to let bad behavior go rather than face some public scrutiny.
An extensive investigation by ProPublica “found more than a dozen cases since 2011 that were dismissed either because of challenges to the software’s findings, or the refusal by the government or the maker to share the computer programs with defense attorneys, or both,” writes Jack Gillum. Many more cases raised issues with the software as a defense.
Given the passion of those who fight against such evil in our world, there is no doubt that this bizarre set of circumstances will lead to a much broader discussion moving forward. The only question now will be what price we are willing to pay for our freedom.
The fact that our government can’t put away these undoubtedly horrific criminals because of the DOJ’s own actions is alarming to say the least.
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